Sedentary is the New Smoking

picture of legs moving to prevent sedentary lifestyle

The Hazards of a Sedentary Lifestyle

On average, how many hours per day do you spend being sedentary, just sitting, uninterrupted? One hour? Two hours? Three…or more?

Our ancient ancestors spent much of their time on the move, hunting and gathering to serve their basic needs for food, clothing and shelter and to avoid predators. The balance between movement and being sedentary has shifted dramatically over time, most notably since the technological revolution.

Unlike our ancestors, we no longer need to hunt for food and search for water. Instead, we are now on a quest for time, as hours fly by while we’re hunched over a keyboard. In an average day, most of us are likely sitting more than we are moving and consuming more calories than we are burning. Many of us regularly put in eight-hour workdays seated at a desk – sometimes even ten and twelve hour days. We then go home and unwind on the couch, binge-watching our favourite shows. The hours of not moving begin to add up.

Maybe we make a little time to fit in some exercise two or three times per week; however, with more conveniences at our fingertips, less movement is required in a day and we can do a lot more while moving a lot less. The longer we sit, the more our bodies begin to feel tight, tired and sore and the more cardiovascular fitness we lose. It’s clear that too much sitting isn’t good for us. But did you know that it can also lead to significantly reduced mortality, similar to the effects of smoking?

Sitting and Premature Death

That’s right; too much sitting can kill you! In fact, some are saying that “sitting is the new smoking” because its impact is so significant. According to recent research from the Journal of the American Heart Association, prolonged sitting increases your risk of similar diseases as smoking, such as heart disease, lung cancer, and diabetes. It also increases premature death by about 50 per cent! Even more surprising, too much sitting increases your risk for an early death regardless of your fitness level or other lifestyle habits. So even if you do make it to the gym a few times per week and make healthy dietary choices, a sedentary lifestyle or excessive sitting at work still predisposes you do die younger.

But sitting isn’t just bad for your heart or metabolism; it is also bad for your brain! Researchers at the University of California have discovered a connection between sedentary behaviour and thinning regions in the brain that are critical to new memory formation.

So, what if your job requires you to be at a desk, all day, every day? Are you supposed to quit? Well, of course, that’s not practical. However, there are a few simple things you can do to ensure that you keep your body regularly moving for a longer, healthier life.

Tips to be Less Sedentary & Live Longer

1. Squeeze in Exercise Whenever Possible

Bottom line, the more frequently you work out, the more you reduce your risk of premature death. Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. While exercising 10 minutes or more at a time is ideal, shorter but frequent micro-bursts of exercise, like taking the stairs, can also be an excellent way to keep active.

2. Opt for Less Convenience

We live in a world of many technological conveniences, we deem them necessary and in some cases to our detriment. Turn back time and reverse your biological clock by opting for “less convenient” choices in your day. Walk over and have a conversation with your colleague instead of sending an email or making a phone call. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Bike to work instead of driving. Changing your daily activities can make a significant impact!

3. Make a Point of Moving Every 30 Minutes

Research shows that people who sit for less than 30 minutes at a time have the lowest risk of early death. Meetings and deadlines don’t always offer the freedom to move, but ideally, you don’t want to be sitting for any longer than three hours at a stretch. Setting a timer on your phone can be a helpful reminder to take regular movement breaks. Do a few stretches next to your desk, do some jumping jacks, knees-up or push-ups. You’ll be more productive for taking that short break and get more circulation and nutrients to your brain.

4. Use a Fitness Tracker

Fitness trackers are an effective way to ensure you’re getting enough activity in your day. As health and fitness wearables grow in popularity, there is an increasing number of options available for every budget and lifestyle. Personally, I love my Fitbit. There are also a wide variety of exercise apps out there to track your progress and monitor your success with motivational milestones to keep you moving. MyFitnessPal is my favourite app to track exercise and calorie intake. I don’t obsess over it, but I do find it helpful to keep me honest with what I’m eating and how much I’m moving.

5. Try a Stand-up Desk

As awareness grows about the health concerns associated with chronic and prolonged sitting, more companies have already begun re-examining ways they can improve employee wellness. In some environments, adjustable desks are offered to provide workers with opportunities to stand instead of sitting if they so choose. There are even treadmill desks so you can walk while you work. If a standing desk is not an option for you, try moving your laptop to a tall counter or table as a means to squeeze in more standing.

6. Move Before, During and After Work

Get up a little earlier to squeeze in some exercise, even if it’s only 15 minutes, before work. Take a walk on your break or at lunch. Go for a swim, bike ride, run or walk in the evening. Spreading exercise throughout your day helps break up the long bouts of sedentary behaviour.

7. Turn off the TV, Get Off your Tablet or PC and Put Down Your Phone

All of these devices are intended to be addictive. Imposing a time limit and sticking to it can help you avoid being sucked into wasting hours on these devices that could be spent moving.

8. Do Some Housework, Yard Work or Gardening

All of these activities involve movement and are far more productive than binge-watching the latest show.

Do you spend excessive amounts of time sitting? Do you experience any health problems that you think could be related to a sedentary lifestyle such as weight gain, back pain, insomnia or high blood pressure? Let’s chat and get to the root of your health issues. Book an appointment with us and together we will find ways to improve your overall health and well-being so that you can live your life to its fullest and longest.

Call or email us at 416-481-0222 or Maria@ForcesofNature.ca or book online here.

To your best health!

The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic

References

http://jaha.ahajournals.org/content/7/6/e007678
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180412141014.htm
http://annals.org/aim/article-abstract/2653704/patterns-sedentary-behavior-mortality-u-s-middle-aged-older-adults

Defusing Depression

depression pic of bench with the words feeling depressed

Defusing Depression

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND

Do you or have you ever suffered from depression? If so, you’re not alone. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 350 million people suffer from depression worldwide and that it is a leading cause of disability. Fifteen percent of adults will experience depression at least once in their lifetime.

Depression knows no bounds. It can impact anyone at any point in their life, regardless of age, gender, medical history, or socioeconomic status. This is evidenced by the recent very high profile suicides of designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain. While depression may seem like an invisible condition, there are warning signs to look for.

What is Depression?

How can you tell if you or someone you know might be experiencing a major depressive episode? A major depressive episode is defined as a depressed mood lasting at least two weeks or more. Life seems filled with darkness, heaviness or hopelessness, and there is a loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities. Depression also comes with other symptoms that can interfere with your work, school or social life.

What are the signs or symptoms of depression?

The signs and symptoms of depression include:

  • Sleep issues. You may be either sleeping too much or having difficulty falling asleep
  • Fatigue. Low energy or feeling fatigued almost every day for no reason
  • Indecision, lack of focus or concentration. Inability to focus, make decisions or think clearly.
  • Moving slower than usual or making unintentional motions to a degree that is noticeable by others
  • Changes in weight and appetite, with an increase or decrease of more than five percent of your body weight a month
  • Recurring thoughts about death or suicide, a suicide attempt, or a specific plan in place for suicide

If you are or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to start a conversation right away, get professional help to identify the cause, and find some appropriate solutions.

What Causes Depression?

What makes depression so puzzling is that there is no one single cause. Hormones, brain chemistry, hypothyroidism, family genetics, life experiences and physical health are all possible contributing factors that can trigger a depressive episode. While some types of depression can be attributed to conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter or early spring due to lack of sunshine over the winter) or postpartum depression (after giving birth), for many the source might not be so obvious.

Unfortunately, in this situation, doctors prefer to medicate rather than investigate, prescribing antidepressants instead of exploring the cause of the condition or offering counselling. Antidepressants have their time and place, but with a myriad of possible side-effects, they are not always an appealing or effective option for everyone. Also, a lifetime prescription to antidepressants is only a Band-Aid solution that doesn’t really address the underlying problem.

Research shows that high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammatory disease, have been documented in subjects with depression. In fact, results from a national health and nutrition examination survey showed that subjects with depressive symptoms had CRP levels that were 46 percent higher than those of non-depressed subjects. Research has illustrated a connection between inflammation in the brain from IgG food sensitivities and depression. Additional studies also suggest that subjects with a depressed mood have low levels of fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO), which is an indication of airway inflammation.

Over time, depression can also lead to significantly more inflammation in the brain. Inflammation is our body’s response to injury or illness, and when left untreated, it can cause chronic illnesses like heart disease and potentially even neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. So not only is identifying the cause of depression early on important for your mental health; it’s also important for your long-term physical health!

This is why visiting a naturopathic doctor can be so crucial. Not only is depression a serious condition, not to be taken lightly, but there are so many possible influences, that it requires a proper 360-degree assessment to determine what might be the cause. The first thing you need to ask yourself is “Why am I feeling depressed?”, we can help pinpoint the underlying cause.

5 Ways to Treat Depression

For those with mild to moderate depression, there are a variety of natural options that can help fight the blues effectively, without pharmaceuticals.

Sunshine & Exercise

It may sound trite to suggest a little fresh air and exercise; however, you can never underestimate the value of a brisk walk in the sunshine. Activity pumps up serotonin, dopamine and endorphins, which are our feel-good, happy brain chemicals. Go for a run to experience a true natural high. Running has been shown to increase a brain chemical called Anandamide. The word is derived from a Sanskrit word, Ananda, which means joy or bliss. It works to lift your mood by binding to the same receptors as THC from marijuana.

Don’t forget, the sun doesn’t just light up the sky. It can also lighten up your mood with its feel-good rays that help your body produce vitamin D. Invest in a therapeutic light box for those cloudy days and winter months.

Create a Regular Bedtime Routine

Depression and sleep issues are intimately connected. For those who have trouble falling asleep, a nighttime routine can help ease you into a more restful slumber.

Set a regular bedtime and unplug from all devices at least two hours beforehand. Use that digital downtime time to take a bath, read a book, listen to music, meditate or unwind in any other low key way. By eliminating sources of constant stimulation and slowing down your evening habits, you will be working with your natural body rhythm and foster a better mental environment for sleep. If you’ve been dealing with insomnia for a while, melatonin is a helpful natural supplement to reset your internal clock. This supplement may not be appropriate for everyone, it should never be taken with sleep medications and in some patients, it has shown a slight increase in depressive symptoms.

Keep yourself on a consistent schedule by setting your alarm to go off after 8 hours. Try to resist the urge to nap during the day as it can disrupt your nighttime sleep.

Natural Supplements

Serotonin is a vital brain chemical called a neurotransmitter. It regulates our mood, behaviour, libido, sleep, and memory. Keep your serotonin levels elevated by getting your fill of healthy omega-3 fatty acids ─ the kind you find in fish, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, and more.

Cut down on coffee, which can reduce serotonin levels. Instead, try green tea which has L-theanine, an amino acid that has a calming and relaxing effect. L-Theanine boosts neurotransmitters and helps to alleviate stress and anxiety. It can create a calm alertness though, so green tea and L-theanine are best consumed early in the day.

Rhodiola rosea and St. John’s wort are other natural supplements that many individuals have had success with for treating depression. That said, St. John’s wort may interfere with birth control or other medications and should NEVER be taken with antidepressants. This is why it is always important to get professional guidance on which supplements and what dose might work best for you.

Get Your Hormones Balanced

Our hormones have an impact on our physical body, our brain and our mood. They can be the reason behind depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, weight gain, and more. Think of your adrenal, sex and thyroid hormones as Jenga blocks. When certain blocks that work together and support each other become imbalanced, it can send our whole life tumbling out of control. The longer you take to correct the imbalance, the more difficult it can be to heal. Getting your hormones tested is an easy and effective way to assess any issues so that you can effectively identify what your options are to get back into balance.

Talk to someone

While you may feel vulnerable or uncomfortable at first, opening up to friends and family may be the relief you need to get through dark times without feeling so alone. Social support is critical when you are feeling depressed. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your burdens with the people you know, then seek professional counselling, whether a therapist, life coach or trusted doctor. We are all here to help, not to judge and we can offer you a fresh, new perspective on things.

If you think you are dealing with depression or can’t shake the blues, we invite you to reach out to us at Forces of Nature. Please feel free to book an appointment or a free 15-minute consultation with us by calling 416-481-0222 or emailing Maria@ForcesofNature.ca. You don’t have to battle depression alone. We can help you get your life back!

The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic

References:

https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lanpsy/PIIS2215-0366(18)30087-7.pdf

http://www.psychiatrist.com/JCP/article/Pages/2016/v77n12/v77n1221.aspx

http://ndnr.com/mindbody/case-study-herbal-treatment-of-depression/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0005791617300629#sec4

Tips for Staying Young

older woman staying young after 50

Staying Young: Healthy Aging Over 50

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND

One of the common myths about aging is that you just have to accept the symptoms of ageing: weight gain, poor sleep, cognitive decline, hot flashes, wrinkles and thinning hair.  Here are my best tips for healthy aging, slowing or reversing these symptoms and staying young at any age:

Weight Gain

What you could eat and get away with before you hit 50 and what you can eat and get away with after 50 is going to be different. Why? Your body’s ability to tolerate foods that increase blood sugar and require insulin decreases when estrogen goes down at menopause. What does that mean? You need to decrease your intake of carbs and sugar after 50 to prevent or stop weight gain. I recommend no more than 60-80 grams of carbs per day, preferably from fruit and vegetables and low glycemic index whole grains. Stay active. Your metabolism slows down as you get older, making it that much more important to stay physically active and keep burning those extra calories. If you find that aching joints are slowing you down, seeing a chiropractor, naturopathic doctor or osteopath may help.

Bone Density

Maintaining regular exercise after 50 is important for maintaining bone density. The single best way to get all the nutrients you need to maintain healthy bones and teeth is to consume bone broth with a handful of spinach every day. Bone broth is literally bones of any type that are cooked for 6-8 hours with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. The liquid is full of all of the minerals for healthy bones as well as the necessary ingredients to make collagen, another major constituent of bones. Our registered dietitian can help you create a meal plan to optimize bone health.

Hot Flashes/Night Sweats

Hot flashes are a signal of inflammation from your body. The best way to reduce those signals is to identify your triggers and make an effort to limit or avoid them. For many women sugar, stress, caffeine, lack of sleep and dairy products are hot flash triggers. Start by avoiding these and see if it helps and try journaling the frequency of hot flashes, time of day, feelings at the time and foods that are associated with your hot flashes to see what your specific triggers are. If stress is a trigger, seeing a psychotherapist to brainstorm stress-busting strategies may help. Acupuncture has been shown in research to help reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes in menopausal women.

Cognitive Decline

Staying young by maintaining your brain health is as important if not more important than maintaining physical health. Hormone balance and low levels of inflammation are important to maintaining cognitive function. Your adrenal glands become increasingly important as you age. They help you maintain a certain level of hormonal health by producing hormones like cortisol, DHEAs and testosterone. The latter two are building blocks to build estrogen so that even post-menopause you can still maintain a healthy post-menopause estrogen level. Reducing intake of inflammatory foods like sugar, dairy and gluten can also help keep your brain healthy as well as your gut.  Increasing your Omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins and magnesium can keep your brain running smoothly too.

Thinning Hair or Hair Loss

Adrenal gland health helps to maintain a healthy, full head of hair. If you see more hair falling when you are under stress, that may be a sign that your adrenal glands need supporting. These vital organs sit on top of your kidneys and help you deal with stress, help manage your blood sugar and blood pressure, help to balance hormones and reduce inflammation. They need substantial amounts of vitamin C, B5, B6, Magnesium and Zinc to function at their best. Targeting these specific vitamins and minerals often help with hair, but also stress, energy, and hormone balance. Extensive blood work can help identify the specific cause of your hair loss. Our ND’s can assist you with getting the right blood work done and ensuring that your levels are optimal for hair growth.

Skin Health

My two best “staying young” tips for your skin are: avoid sugar and eat bone broth. Sugar increases the need for insulin which promotes inflammation. Inflammation contributes to ageing and redness of your skin. Bone broth contains multiple vitamins, minerals and gelatin, all of which help your body make collagen, the support structure or scaffolding for your skin.  Vitamin C, and the amino acids lysine and proline are the other necessary constituents to make healthy collagen. Collagen also helps to keep your joints healthy.  You can take collagen supplements, but personally, I prefer the all-around nourishment of bone broth.

Poor Sleep

Maintaining strict sleep hygiene becomes ultra-important after 50. Good sleep helps us with staying young physically and mentally.  Any little thing that wasn’t a problem before 50 can disrupt sleep after 50. For optimal sleep, shut down any screen time by 8 p.m., make sure you are getting enough physical activity but do it early in the day, use blackout curtains in your bedroom, avoid sweets and alcohol in the evening, engage in relaxing activities in the evening, aim to be in bed by 10 p.m. and cut yourself off caffeine after noon. If stress is keeping you awake, talking it over with a psychotherapist may help.

Inflammation: The Root Cause of Pain

picture of hands with inflammation

How to Treat Inflammation Naturally

What are Signs of Inflammation?

When you sustain an injury you may notice that the area is swollen, painful, red and feels hot to the touch. These are all common signs of inflammation that you may experience on a superficial level. Chronic inflammation can also occur in our bodies and can present itself in other ways. When inflammation triggers sensory nerve endings, it can result in pain. Symptoms such as fatigue, rashes, digestion problems, allergies, asthma, and chest, abdominal and joint pain can also be signs of inflammation.

What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is a natural immune system function. It’s a reaction to infection or injury that triggers a slew of chemical messages to your immune system to prompt healing and repair. It’s a word most of us associate with pain, discomfort and poor health — yet its ultimate purpose is actually to help us get better. Without inflammation, injuries wouldn’t heal and infections could become deadly.

When the body is injured, the swelling and pain of inflammation is a signal to your immune system to send white blood cells so the healing process may begin. Unfortunately, when inflammation becomes chronic, it can trigger numerous other health problems in your body including cancers, depression, asthma and heart disease. In fact, some say inflammation is the “new cholesterol” due to its direct link to heart disease.

In some cases, inflammation occurs when the immune system revolts against us and attacks our own bodies as in autoimmune diseases. Autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, IBD, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis among dozens of others. There are over 80 different autoimmune diseases.

Top Tips to Reduce Inflammation

Which Foods Cause Inflammation?

First, let’s take a quick look at inflammatory foods that you want to limit or avoid. You probably already know all the usual suspects.

  1. Sugar and artificial sweeteners – A 2018 study in children found that a 46% decrease in sugar intake, significantly reduced proinflammatory markers and increased the levels of anti-inflammatory markers.
  2. Fried foods – A 2016 study on deep-fried oil consumption, revealed that intake of deep-fried canola oil could impair metabolism of triglycerides, destroy the gut wall structure and unbalance healthy gut bacteria. All of which could contribute to inflammation.
  3. Grains – Wheat and other cereal grains contain anti-nutrients like gluten that may contribute to inflammation by increasing intestinal permeability and initiating a pro-inflammatory immune response.
  4. Dairy – Proteins in milk and dairy products can trigger an immune reaction that contributes to inflammation. Research on milk containing a protein known as A1 beta-casein significantly increases gastrointestinal transit time, production of dipeptidyl peptidase-4 and the inflammatory marker myeloperoxidase compared with milk containing A2 beta-casein. Cows here in Canada tend to produce more of the A1 beta-casein protein, therefore dairy products here tend to be more pro-inflammatory.
  5. Alcohol – A 2015 study showed that alcohol-induced changes to the gastrointestinal tract microbiome and metabolic function may contribute to the well-established link between alcohol-induced oxidative stress, intestinal hyperpermeability (leaky gut), and the subsequent development of alcoholic liver disease (ALD), as well as other diseases.

What are Anti-inflammatory Foods?

Wondering what those anti-inflammatory foods are? The good news is they are delicious and come with multiple health benefits.

Raw, Organic Fruits & Veggies

Organic foods are a great place to start when looking to adhere to a more anti-inflammatory diet. Grown in mineral-dense soil, organic foods tend have a higher vitamin and mineral content.

In order to keep those vitamin and mineral levels high, it’s also helpful to eat raw or lightly cooked fruits and veggies. Cooking can deplete minerals, which is why it’s important to take every opportunity you can to get eat fresh and raw so you get to enjoy the full nutritional benefits. For example, Vitamin K is found in dark leafy greens like kale and spinach and is excellent for reducing inflammation.

Add in lots of Alkaline Foods

In addition to fruits and vegetables, nuts and legumes are also alkaline foods that can help balance your pH and reduce acidity. While being mindful of your body’s pH, you might be wonder about the impact of acidic foods, like tomatoes or citrus, and how they affect inflammation. Surprisingly these foods don’t create acidity in the body. Although they are acidic in nature, that acidity is quickly neutralized by buffers in the small intestine when they exit the stomach. Therefore, they may actually help to restore your pH balance. Even apple cider vinegar is alkaline-forming (however, other vinegars are not).

Fish & Plant Proteins

Believe it or not, most high protein animal foods, like meat, can actually be acid forming. In this case, plant proteins, such as nuts and beans, are great alternatives to reduce acidity and inflammation.

Need your meat? Then eat more fish. Fish oils, as well as other foods rich in healthy fats like omega 3, are proven to have a variety of health benefits, including significant anti-inflammatory effects.

Fish is also a great source of Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with a wide range of inflammatory conditions.

Antioxidant-Rich Foods: Natural Anti-inflammatories

Those susceptible to chronic inflammation may also benefit from supplementing their diets with food sources that contain bioactive molecules. For example, curcumin is a compound found in turmeric root. It is a powerful antioxidant. Curcumin’s ability to reduce brain inflammation has been shown to be beneficial in both Alzheimer’s disease and major depression. Curcumin has been shown to not only prevent memory problems from worsening, but also to improve them.

Complement your curry with a little watercress salad on the side, including pears, dill weed, onion and chives – all sources of the antioxidant known as isorhamnetin.

Add a little red wine and some berries for dessert, which are rich in resveratrol, and you’ve got yourself an anti-inflammatory party. Resveratrol is an antioxidant produced by certain plants in response to injury or when under attack by bacteria or fungi. This is what makes dark-coloured grapes and berries such excellent health boosters for your body.

And of course, you can’t forget the dark chocolate! The flavonoids found in cacao are extremely potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, which are great for your brain and your heart. New research also shows that consuming dark chocolate with a high concentration of cacao (minimum 70% with 30% organic cane sugar) has a positive effect on stress levels and inflammation, while also improving your memory, immunity and mood. You read that right – chocolate really is good for you (but make sure its good quality and that you are not over doing it).

How to Reduce Inflammation: Going Beyond Diet

While diet definitely plays a role, stress is also a major contributor to inflammation in the body. Stress can be triggered by lack of sleep, lifestyle changes, or any other number of factors. Getting a good night’s rest and making time to meditate or practice other stress-reducing activities, like yoga or Tai chi, are also very effective ways to promote good health and reduce inflammation. Psychotherapy can help you formulate a plan to reduce stress, improve your lifestyle and your relationships.

All it takes is a few conscious decisions about your diet and lifestyle and you are on your way to a healthier you.

Herbs for Inflammation

  1. Curcumin – Research has shown curcumin to be a molecule that is capable of interacting with numerous targets that are involved in inflammation. Clinical trials indicate that curcumin may have potential as a therapeutic agent in diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, arthritis, and chronic anterior uveitis, as well as certain types of cancer.
  2. Boswellia -Boswellia is also known as Frankinsence. It is an important traditional medicine plant that possesses several pharmacological properties. It has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antitumour effects.
  3. Pedalium murex – This Ayurvedic herb, native to South India, Mexico and parts of Africa, is used as an anti-inflammatory, and helps treat many diseases including asthma, gastric ulcer, heart disease and urinary tract disorders.

Chiropractic and Inflammation

In a 2010 study on the effects of chiropractic on markers of inflammation in sufferers of chronic low back pain, 9 chiropractic lower back manipulations caused the mediators of inflammation to present a normalization response in individuals suffering from chronic low back pain.

Massage Therapy and Inflammation

In a 2018 review article, the most powerful techniques for reducing inflammation after exertion were massage and cold exposure. Massage therapy also proved to be the most effective method for reducing delayed onset muscle soreness after exercise and perceived fatigue.

Acupuncture and Inflammation

A 2018 study on rats showed that acupuncture reduced inflammation by down-regulating the levels of the inflammatory markers IL-1 β, IL-6 and IL-8, and in regulating cerebral SIRT1/NF-κB signaling. Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of acupuncture for reducing pain in inflammatory conditions like arthritis and back pain.

Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy and Inflammation

Fibroblasts are the main fascial cells that respond to different types of strain by secreting anti-inflammatory chemicals and growth factors, thus improving wound healing and muscle repair processes. Osteopathic manual practitioners, use myofascial release therapy and other osteopathic manipulative therapies to stimulate fibroblasts to reduce inflammation and improve wound healing, muscle repair and regeneration.

Are you dealing with chronic health issues triggered by inflammation? Do you still have more questions about how you can make greater changes towards a pain-free life? Do you want a customized approach to managing inflammation and preventing disease? Please feel free to contact us and we can find your best solutions together. Call or email us at 416-481-0222 or Maria@ForcesofNature.ca

To your best health!

The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic – Chiropractor, Naturopathic Doctors, Acupuncturist/TCM, Psychotherapist, Registered Dietitian, Massage Therapist/RMT, Craniosacral Therapist, Osteopath

References:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120223103920.htm

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060404085719.htm

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180424133628.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4836295/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3715939/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12148098

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4036413/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1064748117305110?via%3Dihub#bib0015

Sawani A, Farhangi M, N CA, Maul TM, Parthasarathy S, Smallwood J, Wei JL. Limiting Dietary Sugar Improves Pediatric Sinonasal Symptoms and Reduces Inflammation. J Med Food. 2018 May 31. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2017.0126. [Epub ahead of print] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29851540

Zhou Z, Wang Y, Jiang Y, Diao Y, Strappe P, Prenzler P, Ayton J, Blanchard C. Deep-fried oil consumption in rats impairs glycerolipid metabolism, gut histology and microbiota structure. Lipids Health Dis. 2016 Apr 28;15:86. doi: 10.1186/s12944-016-0252-1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27121709

de Punder K, Pruimboom L. The dietary intake of wheat and other cereal grains and their role in inflammation. Nutrients. 2013 Mar 12;5(3):771-87. doi: 10.3390/nu5030771. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23482055

Pal S, Woodford K, Kukuljan S, Ho S. Milk Intolerance, Beta-Casein and Lactose. Nutrients. 2015 Aug 31;7(9):7285-97. doi: 10.3390/nu7095339. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3476926/

Engen PA, Green SJ, Voigt RM, Forsyth CB, Keshavarzian A. The Gastrointestinal Microbiome: Alcohol Effects on the Composition of Intestinal Microbiota. Alcohol Res. 2015;37(2):223-36. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26695747

Schwalfenberg GK. The alkaline diet: is there evidence that an alkaline pH diet benefits health? J Environ Public Health. 2012;2012:727630. doi: 10.1155/2012/727630. Epub 2011 Oct 12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22013455

Devanesan AA, Zipora T, G Smilin BA, Deviram G, Thilagar S. Phytochemical and pharmacological status of indigenous medicinal plant Pedalium murex L.-A review. Biomed Pharmacother. 2018 Jul;103:1456-1463. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2018.04.177. Epub 2018 May 7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29864930

Jurenka JS. Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent of Curcuma longa: a review of preclinical and clinical research. Altern Med Rev. 2009 Jun;14(2):141-53. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19594223

Beghelli D, Isani G, Roncada P, Andreani G, Bistoni O, Bertocchi M, Lupidi G, Alunno A. Antioxidant and Ex Vivo Immune System Regulatory Properties of Boswellia serrata Extracts. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:7468064. doi: 10.1155/2017/7468064. Epub 2017 Mar 13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28386311

Roy RA, Boucher JP, Comtois AS. Inflammatory response following a short-term course of chiropractic treatment in subjects with and without chronic low back pain. J Chiropr Med. 2010 Sep;9(3):107-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jcm.2010.06.002. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22027032

Dupuy O, Douzi W, Theurot D, Bosquet L, Dugué B. An Evidence-Based Approach for Choosing Post-exercise Recovery Techniques to Reduce Markers of Muscle Damage, Soreness, Fatigue, and Inflammation: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis. Front Physiol. 2018 Apr 26;9:403. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.00403. ECollection 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29755363

Rosenkranz MA, Davidson RJ, Maccoon DG, Sheridan JF, Kalin NH, Lutz A. A comparison of mindfulness-based stress reduction and an active control in modulation of neurogenic inflammation. Brain Behav Immun. 2013 Jan;27(1):174-84. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2012.10.013. Epub 2012 Oct 22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23092711

Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity: Fact or Fiction

sunset pic with the symptoms of electromagnetic hypersensitivity or EHS

Can Your WiFi Really Make You Sick?

Understanding the effects of Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) and Radiofrequency Radiation (RF) on Your Health

Our health is directly affected by a variety of things we cannot see but we know to exist. We don’t see the air, but oxygen is essential to human life. We cannot see UV rays, but we can certainly feel their effects when we get a sunburn. While we cannot see electromagnetic radiation (EMR) or electromagnetic fields (EMF), a growing number of people are reporting symptoms that appear to be caused by electrical hypersensitivity (EHS). Much like how pollen doesn’t cause everyone to have allergy symptoms, EMR doesn’t cause everyone to have EHS. And like how some individuals will have intense seasonal allergies while others won’t, some will have severe EHS symptoms, while others won’t. Data suggests that about 3% of the population are sensitive to EMR. What makes these people more sensitive to EMR? That’s a good question.

Over the last 20 years, physicians with the American Academy of Environmental Medicine have been seeing patients whose symptoms appeared to be triggered by “dirty electricity”. The term dirty electricity refers to the electromagnetic energy flowing along a conductor that deviates from a pure 50/60 Hertz sine wave and has both harmonic and transient properties. It is more correctly termed high-frequency voltage transients (HFVT). Electromagnetic radiation may come from power lines, televisions, computers, and other electrical devices. The health impact of dirty electricity was first discovered in the 1950’s. In rural areas, the behaviour and feeding patterns of animals were negatively affected by stray voltage caused by poor grounding and lack of utility infrastructure.

Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Symptoms

Humans suffering from EHS might experience symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, chronic fatigue, depression, memory loss and confusion.
Now, more than ever, we are living in a world of luxuries that depend heavily on electricity and have the potential to generate electrical pollutants. We have phones in our pockets, microwaves in our kitchens, and satellite systems in our cars. As science attempts to keep up with the exponential increase in the use of technology, we are only beginning to comprehend the effects that RF waves may have on our health.

What is Radiofrequency Radiation?

The electromagnetic wave spectrum is comprised of two parts: ionizing radiation and non-ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation includes X-rays and ultraviolet rays, whereas non-ionizing radiation includes radiofrequency (RF), visible light and microwaves. Radiofrequency radiation is the transfer of energy by radio waves. RF EMR is non-ionising radiation, meaning that it has insufficient energy to break chemical bonds or remove electrons (ionisation). RF EMR lies in the frequency range between 3 kilohertz (kHz) to 300 gigahertz (Ghz). For years we have focused on the negative impact of ionizing radiation, but now we are starting to understand that there may be a negative impact from non-ionizing radiation or radiofrequency.

Radiofrequency waves are what allow you to borrow your neighbour’s WiFi while you’re waiting for the service guy to come. Without the need for wires, RF has the power to pass through walls and go just about anywhere, that includes inside our body. In this digital age, many items that we rely upon can be a source of radiofrequency radiation. Our cell phones might seem obvious, but what about our Smart Meters, our children’s gaming systems, the baby monitor and cordless phones? They all use wireless communication, surrounding us in a constant invisible fog of electrosmog.

What is Electrosmog?

According to NASA: “As you sit watching TV, not only are there visible light waves from the TV striking your eyes, but also radio waves, transmitting from a nearby station, and microwaves carrying cellphone calls and text messages, and waves from your neighbor’s WiFi, and GPS units in the cars driving by. There is a chaos of waves from all across the spectrum passing through your room right now.”

As a society, we are pressured to keep up or fall behind. Have you ever passed the Apple store the day a new iPhone hits the market? So many of us are willing to stand in lengthy lines, just to be early adopters of the latest technology. Our priorities are placed on technology as a way to make our lives better. And no doubt, it does in some ways. However, most of us don’t consider how our attachment to technology also impacts our health by inundating our bodies with a constant barrage of radio frequencies.

Is Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Real?

While EMR and RF radiation is considered biologically safe according to safety data provided by Health Canada and other organizations, the reality is that the level of our constant low-grade exposure is not reflected in their guidelines.

Some scientists have been researching the impacts of electrosmog on our bodies long before our world became so highly digitized. In 1987, one study proved that exposure to electrosmog (at levels considerably lower than those observed in urban areas today) created changes in human brain waves and behaviour. Further to that, EMR may also affect our mitochondria. These are our cellular energy factories. They are fundamental to every energy-dependent process in our body, including the function of our nervous system. As a result, EMR-induced disruption of our mitochondria may effectively bolster neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. As well EMR may be playing a part in other diseases and health issues where mitochondrial dysfunction is implicated. These include psychiatric disorders, autoimmune diseases, headaches and migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, stroke, diabetes, heart disease, reproductive disorders… the list goes on and on!

So, the question needs asking: If EMR and RF are already having an impact on our health, what are the long-term effects for our children raised in a world choked by electrosmog? Only time will tell.

How to Minimize Your EMR & RF Exposure

While more data is required, the science that’s already in, warrants taking precautionary measures in minimizing EMR exposure, particularly if you are suffering from EHS symptoms.

5 Steps to Protect Yourself from EMF:

  1. Get rid of your cordless phones.
  2. Turn off your WiFi – Internet can be hard wired into your home to prevent WiFi exposure, as can your television “box” and any other things that are wireless and transmitting and receiving signals.
  3. Switch your cell phone to airplane mode or turn it off at night.
  4. EMR-reducing sleep sanctuary or canopies may help block EMR according to renowned doctor Dietrich Klinghardt.
  5. Finally, there is one other thing you can do for EMF protection, and that is to GET OUTSIDE! By simply spending time in nature and grounding yourself so you have direct contact with the earth, you are opening the gateway for an influx of electrons to be absorbed and distributed throughout your body. This transfer of electrons can help to neutralize oxidative stress and minimize any derangements in the electrical activities of your body. So put down your phone and spend time in nature, walking in bare feet. Ever wonder why you come back from vacation feeling so recharged?

If you believe you have symptoms that could be related to electrical hypersensitivity or any other health issues, please book an appointment to visit us at Forces of Nature. We want to help you take control of your health! Call or email us at 416-481-0222 or email Maria@ForcesofNature.ca

To your best health!
The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic
Chiropractic, Naturopathic, Osteopathic, Massage Therapy, Psychotherapy, Acupuncture/TCM/Craniosacral Therapy, Registered Dietitian

References:

https://www.aaemonline.org/EMR_rf_position.php

Leitgeb N, Schröttner J. Electrosensibility and electromagnetic hypersensitivity. Bioelectromagnetics. 2003 Sep;24(6):387-94.

Trevor G. Marshall and Trudy J. Rumann Heil Electrosmog and autoimmune disease. Immunol Res. 2017; 65(1): 129–135. Published online 2016 Jul 13. doi: 10.1007/s12026-016-8825-7 PMCID: PMC5406447 PMID: 27412293

Should you get your thyroid tested?

woman checking her thyroid

How Healthy is Your Thyroid and Why Does it Matter?

Did you know that a tiny, butterfly-shaped gland nestled in your neck is responsible for producing some of the most important hormones in your body? This small but mighty gland is called the thyroid.  While it’s relatively small in size, it plays a huge role in our endocrine (hormone) system.

This gland produces hormones that interact with many other hormones (like insulin, cortisol, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone).  Looking at how intimately all hormones communicate with each other, it’s no wonder so many symptoms are connected to a poorly performing thyroid!

How does this gland work?

Most of what the thyroid produces is an inactive hormone called thyroxine, or T4. Most of the active thyroid hormone, triiodothyronine (or T3), comes from the conversion of T4 to T3 in different areas of your body, including your liver, gut, brain and muscles.

This “active” T3 is then able to regulate many functions in your body including energy production and regulation of your metabolism. Think of the thyroid as the “gas pedal” for your body.  Constantly regulating the speed that everything else runs.  When all of the systems in your body are working well, the right amounts of T4 and T3 are produced. But if something is negatively affecting the thyroid or other organ systems in the body, this hormone balance gets disrupted and we start to experience various symptoms.

Some of the factors that impact a healthy functioning thyroid are nutritional imbalances, toxins, allergens, infections, and stress. All of these can all be problematic, leading to dysfunction of the gland, and potentially to wider spread systemic disease.

What happens when the thyroid can’t function normally?

When the thyroid is compromised, the body is unable to produce or convert the right amounts of thyroid hormone. Consequently, we experience disorders such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and thyroid cancer. In fact, these diseases are highly prevalent in North America.  An estimated 20 million Americans and 1 in every 10 Canadians have some form of thyroid disease.  Over 12% of all Americans will develop such a condition during their lifetime. Because thyroid conditions are tied to so many varying symptoms, up to 60% of people with disease are unaware of their condition.   Women are 5-8x more likely to be affected than men. It is estimated that one in eight women will suffer from such a disorder during her lifetime.

Thyroid disease is tied to many less obvious disorders including acne, autoimmune diseases, eczema, fibromyalgia, gum disease, constipation or irritable bowel syndrome, migraines and infertility. Because the thyroid is like your gas pedal for all of your cells, it can be linked to almost every bodily function.  Symptoms of an underlying thyroid problem are wide and varied which can make diagnosis difficult.  As a result, many people are misdiagnosed and treated for other conditions before looking at their thyroid.

Hypothyroidism

Symptoms of an underactive thyroid

  • Lethargy or fatigue
  • Foggy thinking
  • Depression
  • Weight gain even if you’ve been exercising and eating well consistently
  • Persistently rough/scaly skin
  • Dry/tangled hair
  • Hair loss (particularly in women)
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • An inability to warm up in a sauna or to sweat during exercise
  • Consistently low basal (resting, first morning) body temperature

Hyperthyroidism

Symptoms of an overactive thyroid

  • Feeling restless, nervous, or emotional
  • Poor sleep quality or insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • The disappearance of or irregular menstruation
  • Weight loss
  • Rapid, forceful, or irregular heartbeat
  • Eye problems (associated with Graves’ disease)
  • Swelling in your neck or having a goitre

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition where your immune system is creating antibodies that are attacking your thyroid.  Over time, this autoimmune attack can damage the gland and cause it to cease working properly.  Autoimmune disorders are complicated, but they can be improved through natural medicine.  Factors like food sensitivities, latent infections, and adrenal fatigue all need to be considered to reverse Hashimoto’s.

Euthyroid Sick Syndrome

This is a condition where blood tests for the thyroid may show normal levels of TSH or thyroid stimulating hormone.  Yet, levels of T3 are low.  When T3 drops, your pituitary ought to respond by producing more TSH to stimulate more production of T4 and then conversion to T3.  Euthyroid refers to the fact that thyroid itself appears to be in working order as TSH is normal.  Treatment of Euthyroid Sick Syndrome often entails looking at the person as a whole and supporting the entire endocrine system as well as resolving stressors.

Thyroid Tests

Simple blood tests can identify a potential problem.  We prefer to do comprehensive thyroid blood work that includes TSH, free T3, free T4, anti-TPO (or anti-thyroperoxidase) and anti-thyroglobulin.  It’s a common misconception that if TSH is normal, then all of the remaining tests will also be normal.  This is not true.  I have reviewed hundreds, if not thousands, of thyroid test results and found that patients can have a normal level of TSH, and even normal levels of free T3 and free T4, but thyroid antibody levels are not normal.  If you suspect a problem, I would highly recommend having complete testing done.

Whether you have an obvious problem or not, it’s important to understand how the thyroid works so that you can keep your body functioning optimally.

Tips to Improve Thyroid Function

When it comes to managing the optimal function of your glands, the building blocks are almost always found in nutrition first and foremost.

6 Tips to maintain a healthy thyroid through diet

  1. Go gluten and dairy free: Most people go gluten and dairy free only when there is an obvious sensitivity like a gut problem to either type of food. Sensitivity to gluten and dairy can be much more subtle when it comes to the thyroid. These foods trigger inflammation, disordered immune system function and are associated with autoimmune thyroid issues.
  2. Focus on your iodine level: Iodine is present in almost every organ and tissue and has a direct effect on the thyroid. Iodine is just one of the most important nutrients for this gland.  Chemical agents in commercial food ingredients have the side effect of decreasing your iodine level. Daily exposure to chemicals found in water such as bromine, fluorine, and chlorine all negatively impact iodine levels by competing with iodine for absorption. You do not need to take iodine supplements, however, and too much iodine can also damage your thyroid.  Using a little bit of good iodized sea salt each day will meet your iodine needs.
  3. Look for “no bromine” or “bromine-free” labels on organic whole-grain bread and flours if you eat grains
  4. Increase your dietary intake of wild-caught seafood and ocean fish
  5. Seek out foods containing zinc and selenium: Zinc and selenium are two micronutrients that play critical roles in thyroid health. Because they can be toxic in very high doses, it’s best to achieve healthy levels through diet. Zinc-rich foods include oysters, beef, pork, egg yolks, shellfish and chicken while selenium-rich foods include Brazil nuts, fish, and liver.
  6. Manage stress: Stress and overall health are inextricably linked. Make sure you’re taking time to meditate, relieve stress, and get your mindset on track so that you can enjoy the benefits of overall health.

You can gain control over your health by learning how to manage and maintain your thyroid through nutrition, lifestyle, and naturopathic medicine support. If you’re dealing with, or suspect you have this or other health issues, please take time to book an appointment to visit us at our clinic. We want to help you take control of your health! Comprehensive testing and hormone assessments are available.

Call or email us at 416-481-0222 or Info@ForcesofNature.ca

To your best health!

The team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic

References:
https://articles.mercola.com/thyroid.aspx
https://www.thyroid.org/media-main/about-hypothyroidism/
J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015 Aug 25:jc20152222. Epub 2015 Aug 25. PMID: 26305620

8 Easy Ways to Up Your Energy

man who has low energy

Top Tips to Increase Your Energy

You know you’re having a great day when you feel good and you can easily accomplish the tasks at hand.

Do you bounce out of bed in the morning?  Sing in the shower? Do you need that extra cup of joe at 3 pm? Do you have the energy to play games with the kids after dinner?

Now, how often do you feel like that? More importantly, do you remember the last time you felt that way? It’s normal to have periods where life is so busy that our energy has to be directed to specific tasks, where we might feel overtaxed.  If you’ve been feeling lackluster for a long period of time and can’t seem to get out of that funk, it’s time to address your energy levels more proactively. Try exploring these tried and true tips for preserving and boosting your energy levels.

Breathe for Energy

While it is a common reaction to stress, shallow breathing prevents the body from receiving enough oxygen and that quickly depletes your body of energy. You may not even notice that your breathing has become quick or shallow until you’re already anxious and exhausted. The trick is to be mindful about your breathing every day so that you can recognize and respond appropriately when you need to.

One powerful and simple breathing technique we recommend is:

Sit down with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes, and press the tip of your tongue against the ridge behind your upper teeth. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a soft sighing sound. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven, and then exhale through your mouth for a count of eight.  Repeat for a total of four breaths. If you’re having trouble sleeping this breathing technique can also help you relax and fall asleep.

Short High-Intensity Exercise

Ideally, about a half hour of exercise, three times a week can help you increase your energy and motivation. The best kind of activity for revving up your energy is short bursts of high-intensity movement. You could take a HIIT class that focuses on interspersing bursts of cardio and strength training, do some jumping jacks beside your desk or you decide to get outside on your lunch break for a brisk walk, swinging your arms and moving vigorously. Bursts of exertion will help you rev up your engine and keep you going for the rest of the day. Extra points if these activities happen outside. You get additional energy boosting effects from being in nature and getting healthy doses of sunshine!  Exercise increases blood flow which will deliver more oxygen and nutrients to your body and your brain cells, giving you more energy.

Stay Hydrated

Your body is about 60% water so if you’re dehydrated your body won’t be able to function as well as it should. Headaches, lethargy, dry mouth, irritability, these are all signs that you need to hydrate. When your body is hydrated, your blood can more easily carry oxygen and nutrients to where they need to be and that results in an energy boost.

Increase Your B12

B-vitamins are also known as the “happy” and “energy” vitamins for their ability to convert dietary nutrients into chemicals that the body can use for energy. While your body needs a few different varieties of B vitamins, one that is especially tied to good energy is vitamin B12. Exhaustion, pallor, anemia, feeling low and tired can all be indicators of low levels of vitamin B12. B12 is primarily found in animal-based foods like meat, dairy, and eggs, but is also available in much smaller amounts in plant foods like mushrooms.  Be sure that you’re eating a diet rich in a wide variety of B12-rich foods! For those with severe B12 deficiency, vitamin B12 supplements are vital because if left uncorrected, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause permanent nerve damage.

Increase Blood Oxygen

Bet you didn’t realize that all of the previous four suggestions have one thing in common! They all positively affect your energy by pumping more oxygen into your body. Well-oxygenated blood feeds your body better, helps us think more clearly, and can greatly diminish fatigue and exhaustion. Want another way to help your body get the oxygen it needs? Add fresh plants to your home and office. Plants feed off of the carbon dioxide we exhale and replace it with fresh oxygen in the air. So, while you’re taking time to smell the flowers, take some time to sniff the plants as well. You just might find you’re breathing easier and feeling more lively too!

Consume More CoQ10

Coenzyme Q10 is a substance found in many foods, also known as ubiquinone, because it’s ubiquitous (found everywhere).  CoQ10 helps the energy-producing organelles called mitochondria in each of your cells to work normally. As we age, our mitochondria diminish in number and can be damaged by environmental pollutants.  Foods that are particularly rich in CoQ10 include organ meats like heart, liver and kidneys, as well as beef, sardines, and mackerel.

Avoid Common Food Sensitivities

If you’re waking up feeling exhausted every morning, despite getting at least 7-8 hours of solid sleep, it may be that your immune system is busy fighting your lunch or dinner from the day before.  Food sensitivities can be exhausting because your immune system is doing battle with food, just like it would be battling a virus or bacteria.  An elimination diet of some common food sensitivities like dairy and gluten may be warranted, especially if you are also suffering from digestive problems.

Identify Allergies

Sometimes the only symptom people have of a seasonal or environmental allergy is fatigue.  If other causes of fatigue have been ruled out and your tiredness happens to coincide with peak pollen seasons like spring and late summer, it may be a sign of seasonal allergies.

Serious Causes of Fatigue

There are a number of disease states that can present as low energy or fatigue.  Iron deficiency anemia, hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, lupus, Lyme disease and even cancer can exhibit fatigue as a symptom.  If you are concerned, please see your doctor for appropriate testing and diagnosis of the cause of your fatigue.

Bonus Tip:

Ask your doctor to check your thyroid, iron and vitamin B12 levels through blood tests to rule out these common causes of fatigue.

Maintaining healthy energy levels can be challenging when you are faced with the stresses of everyday life, but these tips can help you rev up your engine and keep you humming a happy tune all day long. If you still find that your energy levels seem lower than usual, or you are having difficulty sustaining your energy levels over time, you may need a closer look at what is going on and we are here to help. Book an appointment to visit our clinic and let’s help you get back to your energetic self. Call us at 416-481-0222 or email Info@ForcesofNature.ca. 

The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic

Chiropractic ~ Naturopathic ~ Osteopath ~ Massage Therapy ~ Registered Dietitian ~ Acupuncturist ~ Psychotherapist

References

Hernández-Camacho JD, Bernier M, López-Lluch G, Navas P. Coenzyme Q10 Supplementation in Aging and Disease. Front Physiol. 2018 Feb 5;9:44. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.00044. eCollection 2018.

The Scoop on Good Fats and Bad Fats

pic of doughnuts showing bad fats with caption for the top 10 good fats

Do Fats Make You Fat?

If you are trying to lose weight and you believe that means that eating fats and oils is a no-no, you might be in for a surprise. Fat is a vital component of a balanced diet and is necessary for your body to function properly. Inflammation is often involved in preventing weight loss, and the right kinds of fat can help reduce inflammation.  Having said that, too much or the WRONG fats can be a problem. With all the information out there on diet, it’s important to understand not just fads, diets, and tips but the actual needs of your body.

Given how many “experts” purport the benefits of their approach and dismiss the science of others, it can be tricky to figure out which foods are best for our own needs. In fact, it can feel like there’s a new discovery about the best way to eat every week making us question if we’re ‘doing it right’!

Lately, it’s the popularity of the Paleo and Keto diets that has turned prevailing knowledge on its head, largely because of the emphasis these protocols place on eating significant quantities of healthy fats.

No matter what diet you follow, newer science is showing us that there are more benefits to eating higher quantities of healthy fats than we previously thought. In fact, research is showing that the body is built to use these as a major source of energy – some evidence even suggests that fat is a better energy source than carbohydrates! It’s a fact that fat is also vital to a wide variety of normal bodily functions.

What are the Different Types of Fats?

What does monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated mean when it comes to fats?  These terms refer to the molecular structure of the fat.  Fats are made up of long chains of carbon molecules connected to each other by bonds and also bound to hydrogen molecules.  These bonds can be either a single bond or a double bond.  Saturated fats contain only single bonds.  Monounsaturated fats, like oleic acid found in olive oil, contain only one double bond. Polyunsaturated fats, like linoleic acid found in sunflower oil, contain multiple double bonds.

Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA’s)

MUFA’s are liquid at room temperature.  Because of the double bond that they contain, they can be unstable and prone to oxidation.

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA’s)

PUFA’s are also liquid at room temperature and because they contain more than one double bond, can be highly unstable and even more prone to oxidation.  Oxidation creates “free radicals” that can cause damage to our bodies.   Oxygenated derivatives of linoleic acid, known as Oxlams, have been discovered and found to have potent inflammatory effects.  For this reason, it’s preferable to get PUF’A’s and MUFA’s from whole foods, rather than as processed oils.

Saturated

Saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature.  They are more stable because they do not contain any double bonds and therefore are amongst the safest for cooking purposes.  Excessive intake of saturated fats can increase the amount of insulin your body produces, which would not be good.  While there is no need to avoid saturated fat altogether, it’s best not to overdo it either.

Trans

These are the least healthy form of fat.  Trans fats are those that are artificially produced through a process known as hydrogenation.  It is the process that turns a liquid oil into a solid, such as converting sunflower oil into margarine.  These create inflammation in your body, which is linked to heart disease, strokes, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.

Rancid

Rancidity refers to when a fat or oil has gone “bad”, meaning it has developed an unpleasant taste or smell.  When unsaturated fats become oxidized they generate peroxides.  The decomposition of peroxides is what causes the rancid taste or smell.  Rancid oils can create harmful free radicals in your body that can damage your cells.

Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids are healthy fats that we have to get from our diet because our body can’t make them. These are also called Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.  The signs of an essential fatty acid deficiency include dry, scaly skin, skin rashes, hair loss and low platelet counts. In children and infants, a fatty acid deficiency can cause intellectual disability.  The Omega 6 fatty acids include linoleic acid, gamma-linolenic acid, dihomo gamma-linolenic acid and arachidonic acid. The Omega 3 fatty acids include α-Linolenic acid, Eicosatetraenoic acid, Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Supplementation with essential fatty acids is used at our clinic for skin problems like eczema and psoriasis, allergies, mood disorders and inflammatory conditions like arthritis.

What do “Good” Fats Do?

Good fats:

Help to build a strong cell membrane or outer layer for each of your cells
Help to build healthy sheaths surrounding nerves
Assist in maintaining normal blood clotting
Aid in controlling inflammation
Are essential for absorbing certain vitamins such as A, D, E, and K, and minerals like calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, and zinc
Can promote weight-loss
Help encourage blood sugar stability
Are a key factor in achieving hormonal balance
Play a critical role in brain function, memory, and attention span
Have a direct impact on the quality of hair, skin, and nail growth
These reasons should be enough for all of us to realize how important it is to include these healthy nutrients in our nutrition plans!

But I thought fats were bad?

For a long time that was a common way of thinking. The reality is that the reason fats have been stigmatized was because our understanding of how they work was still developing and because we’d been eating too much of the wrong ones!

We understand now that not all fat sources are created equal – just like not all vegetables are equal (just compare iceberg lettuce with it’s dark, leafy counterparts, romaine, and spinach). There are different kinds of fats and to make understanding them easier, we like to think of them as being on a continuum. On one end of the continuum are good fats like MUFA’s and PUFA’s (when they are found in whole foods) and on the other end are bad ones like industrial-made trans fats in processed foods. Saturated fats fall somewhere in the middle.

So which fats should you be eating?

Start by choosing mostly fresh monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found naturally in whole foods, followed by a moderate amount of naturally present saturated fats from whole foods. Those of the trans variety should obviously be avoided – which will probably be easier than you think because they’re mostly present in treats and junk foods that you wouldn’t want to rely on anyway!

Recent studies on coconut oil have found it to be useful in the reduction of body fat in the belly as well as helping to reduce Body Mass index (BMI). Just like any other nutrient, consuming a variety of fat sources is key to finding balance in your nutrition. Not only because variety is important in any diet, but because different foods are more than just a kind of fat, they offer different beneficial vitamins, minerals, and fibre too!

10 Sources of Healthy Dietary Fats

  1. Avocado
  2. Cheese
  3. Dark Chocolate
  4. Whole Eggs
  5. Fatty Fish
  6. Raw Nuts
  7. Chia Seeds
  8. Fresh Cold-pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  9. Coconut & Coconut Oil
  10. Full Fat Yogurt

We recommend adding fats to your diet slowly, especially if you’ve been avoiding them until now. Digesting anything well requires that the body has certain underlying requirements met including healthy gut flora and enzyme production. This is true in the case of fats as well. We’ve talked about gut flora at length in previous blog posts, but enzymes (like lipase, the enzyme that helps break down and digest fats) are also a vital part of healthy digestion – and are the subject for another time.

Are you eating right for your mind, hormone production, your metabolism? Get out of the “fat-free” cycle and into a healthier diet that includes good fats. We have tools to analyze your body’s nutrient needs and can help you experience optimal health every day through nutrition that’s ideal for you. Call us at 416-481-0222.

The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic
References:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19437058

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25636220

Gibson RA. Musings about the role dietary fats after 40 years of fatty acid research. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2018 Apr;131:1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2018.01.003. Epub 2018 Jan 6.

What’s the Best Detox for Your Body?

pic showing the best detox motivation

Is Your Body Overloaded with Toxins? What is the Best Detox Solution?

Your body is a miraculous thing. For all its parts and abilities there are corresponding systems designed to monitor what they’re experiencing.  Your body can decide whether what it is experiencing is beneficial or detrimental and then make appropriate adjustments to maintain balance.

You may mention your circulatory, digestive, endocrine, immune, integumentary, lymphatic, nervous, reproductive, respiratory, musculoskeletal, or urinary system in conversation when someone asks how you are.  Symptoms from these systems give us a sense of how well we are (or are not) at any given time.

What’s Happening When You’re Not Feeling Well?

When you’re unwell, understanding systemic symptoms can help you to determine where to look for the underlying issues. Skin breakouts, hair thinning or falling out, or nail splitting can be signs of poor digestive or liver health. Signs like feeling sluggish, heavy, uncomfortable, or constipated tell us that there’s something less than ideal going on in your body. It becomes important to look at the organs that support our body and keep them functioning optimally, especially when they’re showing us signs that all is not well.

Your organs help your body to maintain overall health, and of course organs like the heart, brain, and lungs are responsible for some of the most vital functions of life. Without them, well – we wouldn’t be here! But, your organs do other important jobs as well, such as neutralizing and eliminating toxins and irritants. The organs that help the most with these functions are the lungs, the skin, the digestive tract, and most importantly: the liver and the kidneys. When you start tracing symptoms to the organs that should help prevent them, you can start to make the connections to underlying organ weakness.

How Does Your Body Cope When Faced with Toxins?

The simple answer? Detoxification. One of the things your body is especially good at is sweeping out any toxic elements and chemicals that can compromise your health. That’s a big part of what your organs are designed to do.

However, not all toxins are equal and of course, there are many factors that can affect how the body responds to them at any given time. Also, toxins don’t come from only one source. In fact, the definition of a ‘toxin’ is surprisingly simple and broad: anything that the body doesn’t find useful or that harms its integrity is toxic to the body. The fact is, we’re combating toxins all the time.

The most common types of toxins we all encounter regularly come from poor diets, poorly digested, fermented food, medications, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, environmental toxins like air and water pollution, smoke, pesticides and herbicides. This toxic burden is an inescapable part of urban life, and we know it can sound pretty depressing!

When subjected to all of these forms of toxins at once – as most of us are – it’s easy to see how our bodies can become inundated with chemicals that need to be removed. It’s also easy to understand why, even though we might be doing everything we can to sustain a healthy lifestyle and keep our toxin-fighting organs in prime condition, our bodies sometimes need help in this respect.

How Do I Know if I’m Overloaded with Toxins?

As we said before: the body is constantly detoxifying – day in, day out, all day and all night! Our organs are designed to do just that to keep us healthy but who hasn’t been super stressed out and resorted to a poor diet or more frequent glasses of wine? Who hasn’t experienced an illness that compromised their health to the point where they just don’t seem to fully recover? These are just some instances when toxin overload may contribute to ill health.  Sometimes toxins that we experience daily become a combined, overwhelming force while at other times we experience a mix of toxins in particularly high doses. Ongoing situations like this can lead to chronic toxin overexposure and inadequate elimination.

Are you overloaded with toxins? Ask yourself these questions:  

  1. Do you have persistent brain-fog, lack of focus, mental clarity, or migraines?
  2. Do you have ongoing fatigue, muscle aches or pains, general lack of motivation or feelings of depression that just won’t go away?
  3. Have you noticed an increase in body odour, foul fecal odour, pungent or bad breath?
  4. Are you experiencing skin reactions or acne in ways you haven’t before?
  5. Have you recently become newly sensitive to chemicals, fragrances, or scents?
  6. Have you developed new allergies of any kind?
  7. Are your periods excessively heavy or painful?

These are just some of the common changes that you might notice and they’re some of the ways your body is trying to tell you that it’s overwhelmed with toxins.

Do Detox Diets Work?

A handful of clinical studies have shown that commercial detox diets enhance liver detoxification and eliminate persistent organic pollutants from the body. Better quality studies still need to be done, but from our clinical experience, we’ve seen numerous patients improve by assisting their bodies to remove toxins. Organic pollutants have been implicated in the development of inflammatory conditions, obesity and diabetes.

What is the Best Detox?

Some basics for the healthy ongoing elimination of toxins:

  1. Stay hydrated.  Water intake helps your body flush waste out through your kidneys.
  2. Increase your fibre intake.  Consuming lots of vegetables and legumes and moderate amounts of fruit help your body to excrete toxins through regular bowel movements.
  3. Lemon water.  Drinking a glass of lemon water first thing in the morning helps to get bile moving that carries waste out of your liver.
  4. Eat a healthy, whole foods diet including organic foods as much as possible to reduce your toxic burden.

Advanced liver detox techniques

Healthy liver detoxification requires specific vitamins and minerals to allow for efficient function of phase I and phase II liver detoxification.  These include indole-3-carbinol, vitamin B6, B12, magnesium, L-5MHTF and calcium-d-glucarate.  Leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts help supply these nutrients.  Our naturopathic doctors can provide expert advice about dosing for these and other natural supplements for doing the best detox cleanse.

Accessory nutrients that are also needed for healthy liver detoxification include alpha lipoic acid, n-acetyl cysteine, Vitamins A, C and E, glutathione, selenium, glycine, taurine and glutamine.

When you’re experiencing symptoms that may be related to toxins, it’s the right time to visit our clinic for help. We can help reactivate your body’s natural defence mechanisms so that you can experience optimal health every day. Sometimes, our organs need extra help in their work combatting toxins. We have lots of solutions to help you ensure that toxins are kept at bay and that your organs are happy, healthy, and strong.

What About Those Detox Kits?

A detox kit would not be what we would recommend to support healthy liver detoxification.  Mainly these kits contain fibre supplements, laxative herbs and small doses of herbs like milk thistle and dandelion.  Fibre supplements and laxative herbs only make you poop more.  More frequent bowel movements do not mean more efficient liver function.  Milk thistle is useful for regenerating liver cells when your liver has been injured, think of conditions like cirrhosis or hepatitis.  Rebuilding your liver won’t hurt, and may help, but as a low dose ingredient in these kits, it’s not enough to accomplish much.  Dandelion is used to help your liver make more bile and empty that bile out of your gallbladder into your small intestine.  This helps to carry waste out of your liver.  But, in order for there to be waste to carry out, your liver has to break toxins down, that is where we want to support the liver in phase I and phase II liver detoxification so that you can carry waste out through bile.  If you have regular bowel movements, you are making and excreting bile.  Bile is part of the process that helps to keep bowels regular.

Looking for the best detox diet?

You can download a free 6-day meal plan by clicking here.

Call or email us at 416-481-0222 or Info@ForcesofNature.ca and we’ll be happy to have a detailed consultation with you to find the right pathway to your optimal health.

The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic

Research

Klein AV, Kiat H. Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2015 Dec;28(6):675-86. doi: 10.1111/jhn.12286. Epub 2014 Dec 18.

How to Avoid Getting Sick While Travelling

tips on how to avoid getting sick while travelling, showing healthy fruit

“Every Time I Travel I Get Sick!”

How to Avoid Getting Sick on Your Vacation

By Dr. Pamela Frank. BSc, ND

As I’m leaving on Wednesday to somewhere warm, I’m thinking about keeping my son and I healthy while we’re away and how we can avoid getting sick.  With winter in full swing, our minds tend to wander to warmer climates and the opportunity to travel to them. While we often seek out sunny destinations for a brief reprieve during these colder months, if you’re one of those people who always gets sick when you travel then that can create a serious pause in the fun. While we look forward to being whisked away to somewhere new, we often forget that drastic shifts in climate can affect our immune systems.  New environments also hold a variety of unexpected or previously unencountered microbes, and experimenting with local cuisines can play roulette with our digestive systems.

In spite of all of this, we love to travel too! That’s why we’ve developed a list of the most important precautions to take prior to taking off for your next exotic destination so you can avoid getting sick and get the most out of your upcoming vacation!

Pre-Travel Vitamins

Taking a daily multivitamin to ensure you’re getting the vitamins and minerals you need for optimal health is always a good idea, but it’s extra important when you’re preparing for a trip that could include flying and staying in various foreign accommodations. Be sure to include Zinc, B-complex, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D3 to strengthen your immune system and avoid getting sick before, during and after your trip.

Hydration

Making sure you’re well-hydrated is critical to prepare for your trip, as dehydration is a major factor in travel. Since travel often involves conditions such as traveling in dry, pressurized airplanes, being in hot or arid climates, or exerting more energy than usual; we need to ensure that our hydration levels are optimized to maintain healthy bodily functions. When the flight attendant asks for your beverage order take it as a signal to have a glass of water and avoid those dehydrating cups of coffee or glasses of wine. And – never be shy to ask for refills. If anyone knows in-flight dehydration, it’s the cabin crew!

Travel Supplements

It’s not just fun to experience new places, travel can be so exciting that it can send your body into high gear. Think for a moment about your last vacation. How many new situations, thrilling moments, and unexpected occurrences did you experience? While you worked through each of them, your body’s coping mechanisms were in full effect, helping you to experience joy, exhilaration, and stress – all heightened by brand new circumstances. When you consider it that way, it’s clear that everything including your digestive system, immunity, circadian rhythm, and even your adrenal glands are on active duty even though you are on vacation. Help your body to manage these ups and downs with these natural supplements to avoid getting sick:

Adaptogens

Taking an adaptogen like reishi, ashwagandha, and holy basil can help fight stress, anxiety, and fatigue. Begin taking your preferred adaptogen at least a week before you travel. Natural supplements take time to build in order to reach peak efficacy.

Antimicrobials

Antimicrobials are proven pathogen killers that can assist your digestive and immune systems in warding off new strains of bacteria to which your body might not be accustomed. Sometimes our best efforts to avoid foods like washed salads and raw vegetables that cause common stomach bugs still don’t keep us safe. In that case, it’s good to know you can start early and ward off traveler’s tummy and diarrhea with antimicrobials like oil of oregano, grapefruit seed extract and colloidal silver.

Melatonin

Melatonin helps your body rebalance its circadian rhythm, or find homeostasis in its wake and sleep cycle. This is the supplement of choice for fighting jet lag! Most melatonin supplements suggest taking the dose before going to bed in your new destination, and to do so for a couple of days until you feel you’ve adapted. Good sleep is so important to avoid getting sick!

Probiotics

Probiotics we talk about the benefits of these good bacteria often – and for good reasons! Keeping your gut flora nice and strong is of extra importance when traveling since there are many instances when you could encounter new or different foods and beverages. Even a seemingly innocent salad could harbor a surprise when eaten in a foreign land, since bacteria in water differs greatly around the world, as do food care standards! Help your gut to be as healthy as possible prior to and during your trip by supplementing with a great probiotic.

Ginger

Ginger is world renowned for easing nausea, stomach upset, indigestion, and even motion sickness. Sometimes there’s no need to try over-the-counter medications when a good natural supplement can also do an effective job. Keep some natural ginger chews with you at all times for when those unforeseen moments strike.

What to Put in a Travel First Aid Kit

A classic first aid kit is always welcome when going away. You can purchase a travel sized one at any pharmacy or make your own. We always include:

  • Adhesive bandages (multiple sizes) and tape
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (remember it has to be less than 100 ml if you take it in your carry-on)
  • Antiseptic wound cleanser (like alcohol or iodine pads, again less than 100 ml)
  • Blister pads or moleskin
  • Safety pins and scissors
  • Sterile gauze

Sunscreen

Whether you’re going surfing or snowboarding or something in between, you always need to protect your skin from sun exposure. The reflective glare from sea and snow can make your skin more prone to burns which not only make your trip less enjoyable but it can also be dangerous in the long run. Look for natural ingredients such as zinc oxide which is a mineral used to create a physical block from the sun. Additional ingredients such as vitamin E or C are also nice ways of giving your skin a nice boost of topical antioxidants. With sunscreen, it needs to be less than 100 ml if you are taking it in your carry-on luggage, otherwise, it will have to go in a checked bag.  

Sunstroke or Heat Stroke

Remember that prolonged exposure to high temperature can lead to heat stroke or sunstroke.   Avoid getting sick with heat stroke by limiting your time in the sun, particularly during peak hours between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. The symptoms of sunstroke include a throbbing headache, dizziness or light-headedness, a lack of sweating despite the heat, red, hot, and dry skin, muscle weakness or cramps, nausea and vomiting, rapid heartbeat, and rapid, shallow breathing.  Sunstroke is a medical emergency and you should call 911 if you suspect that you or someone you know has it. Meanwhile, cooling methods like cool clothes, cool bath or ice packs can help to restore normal body temperature while medical care arrives.

Prescriptions

If you’re taking any prescription medication, please be sure to have enough for the duration of your trip, plus a couple of extra doses, in case of unanticipated travel changes. Always make sure that your prescriptions are in labeled bottles and that you also have a doctor’s note if necessary, as some medications might not be universally understood or accepted in different countries. You might also consider bringing a valid prescription for a refill of your medication as a “just in case” measure.

Travel is exciting and has so many benefits from providing a well-deserved break from routine to exploring history and learning about different cultures to taking on new challenges and building new skills. We want you to get the very most out of your adventures, no matter how relaxed or extreme they might be.

If you’re traveling soon and want to review how to best prepare you and your family before heading away, please call or email us at 416-481-0222 or Info@ForcesofNature.ca and book an appointment. Together we can make sure that you’re ready for all the excitement that lies ahead in good health!

Here’s to your next adventure!

The Practice Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic

Research:

Palatty PL, Haniadka R, Valder B, Arora R, Baliga MS. Ginger in the prevention of nausea and vomiting: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013;53(7):659-69. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2011.553751.

Acree M, Davis AM. Acute Diarrheal Infections in Adults. JAMA. 2017 Sep 12;318(10):957-958. doi: 10.1001/jama.2017.8485.